In another example of the extraordinary lengths Canadian immigration officials go to deport migrants, the Canada Border Services Agency has been collecting their DNA and using ancestry websites to find and contact their distant relatives and establish their nationality.

“I think it is a matter of public interest that border service agencies like the CBSA are able to obtain access to DNA results from sites like Familytreedna.com and Ancestry.com,” said Subodh Bharati, a lawyer who is representing a man who says he’s Liberian, but who the government is now trying to prove is actually Nigerian. “There are clear privacy concerns. How is the CBSA able to access this information and what measures are being put in place to ensure this information remains confidential?”

Bharati, who is representing his client through CLASP, the legal aid clinic at Osgoode Hall Law School, said he is aware of at least two individuals who used Familytreedna.com, one in the UK, who have been contacted by the CBSA seeking to deport someone from Canada.

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“Individuals using these sites to look at their family tree should be aware that their confidential information is being made available to the government and that border agents may contact them to help facilitate the deportation of migrants,” he said.